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Serial Offender: Miami Federal Prosecutor Called on Misconduct in Drug Cases

August 9th

MIAMI, FL — There is something rotten in Miami. A federal prosecutor there, Assistant US Attorney Andrea Hoffman, seems to have problems staying within the bounds of the law as she attempts to prosecute major drug cases. As a result, cases are coming undone, and some Colombians are going home, some who likely were innocent. […]

Read Serial Offender: Miami Federal Prosecutor Called on Misconduct in Drug Cases in its entirety on The Daily Chronic.

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DEA Agent to Raided WA Dispensary Owner: “Things Are Going to be Hell For You”

July 25th

Bayside Collective employees in Olympia, WA stand in front of empty shelves following a raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (K5)

Bayside Collective employees in Olympia, WA stand in front of empty shelves following a raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (K5)

OLYMPIA, WA — When Bayside Collective owner Casey Lee saw seven vehicles speed into the parking lot of his Olympia, Washington medical marijuana dispensary Wednesday morning, he thought he was being robbed, and told his employees to take cover.

“When I came outside, there were guns drawn on me,” Lee said Wednesday night. “And then I saw the badges.”

As DEA agents cleaned out the shelves of his dispensary, confiscating an estimated $2,500 worth of medical marijuana and 17 small marijuana plants,  Lee says an agent asked him why he continued to remain in the business of providing medical marijuana.

“One of the DEA agents said: ‘This is your second raid and your third robbery. Why do you keep doing this?’” Lee said.  ”I just told him it’s because we just enjoy helping people, and he told us that he wasn’t expecting that a. . . . . READ MORE

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BUSTED: Over 70% of All Major US Drug Seizures Are Marijuana Related

July 13th

A new study has found that over 70% of recent seizures of illicit drugs in the United States are marijuana related, painting a picture of the American drug landscape and a mis-prioritized, failed, war on drugs.

The study, “Busted: Analyzing America’s Most Recent Drug Hauls,” looked at major drug seizures as reported by over 1,500 media outlets in the United States during a 13 month period from March 2012 – April 2013.

The study found that of the 5,000 most recent drug busts reported in the news, 70.5% involved marijuana — 140% more than all cocaine (13%), heroin (10%) and methamphetamine (6%) busts combined.  The study did not look at prescription medication abuse or other designer drugs, only the “big four.”

The study found high concentrations of methamphetamine and meth labs in the Midwest, an abundance of heroin in the Northeast, especially in the tri-state area, and a lot of cannabis in California and North Dakota.  Cocaine busts were virtually non-existent in Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota, and in a reality check for Breaking Bad fans, New Mexico wasn’t anywhere near the top ten in meth busts.

The study’s author, John Millward, admits that the study represents only a fraction of the total number of seizures made by the DEA, FBI, U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Border Patrol on a yearly basis, but because each of the busts were large eno. . . . . READ MORE

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Washington State Marijuana Regulators Want Clarity From Feds

July 12th

OLYMPIA, WA – Two Washington state regulators who are drafting rules for the state’s newly legal recreational marijuana industry said they would benefit from clearer directives by the federal government on how to build a system that would avoid being shut down.

Chris Marr, one of three appointed members of the state Liquor Control Board charged with drafting state pot rules, said the U.S. Department of Justice had so far provided scant guidance on how to develop an industry that federal authorities, who view pot as an illegal drug, won’t feel compelled to shutter.

“Policy is being established that will be a precursor for a large number of states,” Marr said. “It’s irresponsible. They should at least engage even if just for the purposes of information gathering.”

Washington and Colorado last November became the first U.S. states to legalize recreational pot use, even as the drug remains illegal under federal law, and both expect to have recreational-use marijuana stores open starting next year.

Despite the federal prohibition of cannabis, the states are proceeding with efforts to create rules for their nascent markets with provisions including advertising restrictions and security requirements for growing operations.

Engagement in those efforts could give federal authorities a voice in a pr. . . . . READ MORE

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Judge Rules Harborside Can Stay Open While City of Oakland Fights Feds

July 4th

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A medical marijuana dispensary billed as the world’s largest cannabis store may stay open while the city of Oakland fights a U.S. government effort to shut it down or seize the property, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday in an ongoing tug-of-war in Caifornia between federal authorities and the medical marijuana industry.

In February, Magistrate Maria-Elena James, the same judge who issued the ruling on Wednesday, said the city had no right to intervene in a federal prosecutor’s civil-forfeiture action against the Harborside Health Center, which was previously featured on the Discovery Channel reality TV show “Weed Wars.”

The city appealed the ruling, and James’s latest order allows the dispensary to continue to sell medical marijuana to individuals carrying a doctor’s recommendation while the appeal is under review.

James called the question of Oakland’s legal standing in the case “a matter of significant public interest.”

Attorney Cedric Chao, who is representing . . . . . READ MORE

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Florida Bong Ban Takes Effect, But Is It Enforceable?

July 1st

TALLAHASSEE, FL —  As of today, the sale of most pipes, water pipes and bongs will be banned in Florida as a bill passed by lawmakers in April and signed by the Governor earlier this month takes effect.  But are they really banned?

Under the new law, it is now a first-degree misdemeanor for any retailer “to knowingly and willfully sell drug paraphernalia.”  Second and subsequent violations jump to a third-degree felony.

As initially drafted, House Bill 49 was intended to ban the sale of the following smoking devices:  metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic smoking pipes, with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads, or punctured metal bowls; water pipes; carburetion tubes and devices; chamber pipes; carburetor pipes; electric pipes; air-driven pipes; chillums; bongs; ice pipes or chillers.

The only pipes that the bill specifies will still be allowed for sale in Florida must be made of briar, meerschaum, clay or corn cob.

The bill establishes five new crimes: use or possession of drug paraphernalia, manufacture or delivery of drug paraphernalia, delivery of drug paraphernalia to a minor, transportation of drug paraphernalia, and advertisement of drug paraphernalia.

“Rather than just regulating them, let’s just ban them,” Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), a recovering crack addict turned lawmaker who authored the bill. “If we can make people drive to Georgia and Alabama and South Ca. . . . . READ MORE

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CA Medical Marijuana Dispensary Numbers Shrink in Two-Pronged Attack

June 30th

LOS ANGELES, CA — California medical marijuana dispensaries — and their patients — are under a sustained, two-pronged attack, and that is having a dramatic impact on patient access across the state. Under pressure from the federal government on one hand and newly-emboldened local officials on the other, dispensary numbers are shrinking and ever larger swathes of the state that legalized medical marijuana nearly 17 years ago are without anywhere to get medical marijuana.

Anyone who is following the situation in the Golden State at all closely has seen a numbing litany of reports of dispensaries forced out of business, including from some of the most venerable, respected, and law-abiding operations in the state.

What had been the occasional raid or prosecution by the DEA or federal prosecutors during the early years of the Obama administration has turned into a heightened onslaught since the issuance of the notorious Cole memo, written by Assistant Attorney General James Cole, two years ago next week and the announcement by California’s four US Attorneys that fall that they were declaring open season on dispensaries.

And while recalcitrant city and county law enforcement and elected officials had managed to make access to medical marijuana a pat. . . . . READ MORE

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U.S. Conference of Mayors Tells Feds to Respect Local Marijuana Laws

June 24th

LAS VEGAS, NV — The United States Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution on Monday criticizing the failure of marijuana prohibition and urging the federal government to respect the ability of states and cities to implement policies like marijuana legalization and medical marijuana without interference.

“In November, voters in my city and state strongly approved a ballot measure to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana,” said Mayor Steve Hogan of Aurora, Colorado. “The bipartisan resolution we passed today simply asks the federal government to give us time to implement these new policies properly and without interference. Cities and states across the country are enacting forward-thinking reforms to failed marijuana prohibition policies, and for the federal government to stand in the way is wasteful and contrary to the wishes of the American people.”

The feds have conducted more than 200 SWAT-style raids on state-compliant medical marijuana businesses since 2011. Here, law enforcement commandos descend on a Santa Rosa neighborhood in search of medical marijuana growers in September, 2012.

The feds have . . . . . READ MORE

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U.S. Mayors Demand Change to Federal Policy, End to Crackdown on Medical Marijuana in Their Cities

June 21st

LAS VEGAS, NV — As mayors from across the country gather today in Las Vegas for the 81st annual U.S. Conference of Mayors, the federal government’s crackdown on medical marijuana is expected to be discussed and debated over the weekend.

resolution ”in support of states setting their own marijuana policies without federal interference” was introduced in advance of the conference by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and co-sponsored by eight other mayors from across the country. Deliberation on the resolution comes days after medical marijuana advocates issued an alarming report detailing how the Obama Justice Department has spent nearly $300 million to undermine medical marijuana laws in the U.S.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

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City of Oakland Back in Court to Fight Closure of Harborside Medical Marijuana Dispensary

June 21st

SAN FRANCISCO — The City of Oakland’s fight against the federal government’s attempt to close the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the United States — and one of Oakland’s top tax paying retailers– was renewed Thursday when attorneys for the city asked a federal judge to postpone court proceedings in the case.

The request for postponement comes after a federal judge ruled in February that the city does not have legal rights in a forfeiture case against the owners of the building that contains Oakland’s Harborside Health Center.

In February, Judge Maria-Elena James wrote in a 10-page ruling that a local U.S. attorney had successfully argued the federal government was immune from Oakland’s lawsuit under the Administrative Procedures Act, which sets out how U.S. agencies develop and issue regulations.

On Thursday, attorneys from the city asked James to postpone all actions in the case until an appeals court can review her ruling, which could take up to a year before the case is heard.

The city of Oakland has been attempting to kill an attempt by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag to close Harborside Health Care, which is one of the largest and most respected medical marijuana dispensaries in the country, and has been called a model business by city officials.

Harborside employs ov. . . . . READ MORE

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